As mentioned in the earlier Peugeot 404 article, the local auto club is auctioning off two cars this coming weekend. In addition to the Peugeot, there’s this, a 1987-model Lada Samara 1300 that is going under the hammer and sickle on Sunday.
In the true spirit of перестройка, the Lada was reformed after spending five years immobile and stangnant in a barn, covered in dust and cack. It also received some mechanical sprucing up these past couple of weeks, so that it could return to the streets.
Resembling a Yugo but a size bigger, the Lada Samara was co-developed in the early Eighties with Porsche’s engineering division. It’s not something Porsche like to make a too big fuss about, but the presence of a Lada in the Porsche Museum tells something about the project. The Samara also bears a significant resemblance to the mid-1970s Porsche FLA concept, which was an affordable hatchback designed for a long life. The 1985-unveiled Samara is still in production, albeit modified somewhat.
This one is one of the first-generation cars with the original plastic nose treatment, which got toned down later.
The Samara spent its time in the same barn in which I winter-stored my Sapporo. I never gave it too much attention, as it was overly dusty and had a lot of stuff inside it. But just a couple of weeks ago it was dragged out of the barn and loaded onto a trailer, and with some Mercedes W124 300D power it made it to the garage. Slowly, though.
The Lada wears bespoke and period-correct Melber wheels, imprinted with the Samara logo. A neat touch. The tires are de-studded Michelin winter tires, and frankly hopeless.
The plastic nose cone would be a challenging thing to polish. The colour was fading, and the scrapes and scratches were going to stick there.
The interior wasn’t too dirty, but the seat covers were manky and the dust everywhere made the horrible quality dashboard look even worse. The rear seat had two seat covers on it, and an inexplicable accordion resided there.
Towed to the garage, the Samara could begin to be worked on. The major issue with the Samara was that the ignition barrel was dead. With some persuading with a hammer, the old ignition lock came off and could be replaced – but not before undoing some GDPO fixes done years ago. The plastic on the steering column was so brittle, that it couldn’t be manhandled too much.
After replacing the ignition lock and fiddling with the carburetor, the Samara sprung to life after numerous attempts.
A quick power wash removed most of the accumulated cack, but it was still time to detail the car better.
The engine bay received a powerwash as well. It didn’t exactly run any worse after being washed, on the contrary. On the left, you can see the block heater socket, and the oil cap was mentioned to be straight from a ’60s Fiat product.
The horrible seat covers came off to reveal intact seats with no rips, and a little hoovering and cleaning made it a little bit nicer inside. Nothing in the cabin is very high quality, and the ergonomics are at least questionable. But it all works, sort of.
The manual (of course!) gearbox is a 5-speed, so theoretically it’s bearable on the highway.
A couple days later, armed with a bag of polishing products, I went to town on the paintwork. Cheaply bought paint reviver, hand-buffed, together with some bumper blackener turned the Samara closer to presentable.
After that, the Samara was attempted to get through inspection at the nearest inspection station. Brake and idle issues have still prevented it to reach road legal state, but it’s possible these will get sorted out before the auction.
You know, cleaning up the Samara and to see it get a pulse again sort of made me get all attached to it. It’s basically worthless: while the RWD Ladas are liked and cherished, no-one really cares about the Samara at all. But this example is practically rust free, has only 84 000 km on the clock, and looks somehow likeable in an underdog way. I really wouldn’t mind doing my grocery runs in it, when it’s road legal again. If it receives no proper bids at all, I sort of almost could even snap it for myself. Watch this space.
[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Antti Kautonen]